Christian Brothers Academy had not won a district team title since 1968. At District 22 Friday and Saturday, the Colts wrestled like champions all weekend long.
From Sebastian Rivera’s opening 35-second pin in the 106-pound quarterfinals through Mike Oxley’s dramatic 3-1 overtime victory over Tyree Sutton which ended the finals, CBA was the best team here.
CBA outpointed Long Branch’s defending team champions, 176.5 to 166.5. It ended the way it was supposed to.
In the marquee match of the tournament — pitting last year’s Region VI Outstanding Wrestler (Oxley) against a former District 22 Outstanding Wrestler award winner (Sutton), the senior Colt smothered the Keansburg junior’s athletic offense. Regulation ended 1-1. In the third overtime period, Oxley (33-2) caught Sutton (30-2) off balance and turned him over for two back points.
Oxley and Sutton are both state-ranked at 195.
“I was aware he was fast and strong,” Oxley said. “I wrestled my way. The coaches have been riding us and it paid off.”
Oxley was joined in the district winner’s circle by teammates Rivera (106) and Erik Beshada (138).
“The guys stepped up,” an emotional CBA coach Russ Witt said. “This team title has been our goal since the end of last year. We never took our eyes off the goal. Last night, when they announced the team score, it was a shot of adrenaline. Our guys were feeding off of each other.”
Both CBA and Long Branch advanced eight wrestlers into the Region VI tournament. Colts Carl Vasti (113) and Christian Casselli (145) reached regions by placing third in the final seconds of their bouts. Chris Koutzen (160) won his third-place bout, 10-9.
Rivera (33-0) posted two pins and a technical fall in the finals and was voted Outstanding Wrestler. Beshada decisioned Middletown North’s Paul Capaldo, 9-3, and became the first wrestler not from a Middletown public high school to win four District 22 titles.
“We put everything together as a team and I got to perform the way I knew I could on the championship stage,” said the senior, who is leaning towards going to the Merchant Marines Academy. “This tournament is a great reward for us.”
Middletown North’s Matt Sirchio was voted district Coach of the Year.
The first 10 bouts were won by the top seeds. Red Bank Catholic’s Shawn McCord (28-1) became his school’s first champ in 13 years, decisioning Ocean’s Dan Loizos, 9-5, in the 220-pound final.
“This was not just for me,” said McCord, who will play football at St. Francis of Pennsylvania next year. “This is for the program. For the coaches, they were ecstatic. And it’s for all I have worked for my whole life. I was 5-9 as a frosh. Losing motivates me.”
Middletown South crowned three champs. At 126, Dom Franciosi won his second title, 7-6, after trailing CBA sophomore Dylan VanSickell, 4-1. At 145, senior Garrett Rumsby showed off his lethal cradle in both the semis and finals. Trailing Long Branch’s Nick Menkin, 6-2, Rumsby forced in a cradle and pinned in 4:48. At 152, junior teammate Matt Best toppled Brandon Perez, 12-7.
“I knew if I could get my cradle I’d be able to stick him,” Rumsby said. “That’s what I’m known for and I’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years.”
Raritan heavyweight Pat Toal beat Middletown South’s Taylor Hendrickson, 4-3, for the title.
“It feels awesome, coming back,” said Toal, who will play football at Old Dominion in Virginia. “I could not have done this without my teammates and coaches.”
Ocean’s Max Rallo (120), who plans on wrestling at Sacred Heart in Connecticut, won his third crown, 10-4, over Long Branch’s Andy Hernandez. Other winners were Long Branch’s Jason Hernandez (113), Rumson’s Marcus Iwama (132), Middletown North’s Anthony Fabiano (170) and Raritan’s unbeaten Kyle Lynch (182).